Scheme eases rookie cops into duties

By Beck Vass

Looking at a police officer in full uniform, it is hard to imagine that on the inside they might be "terrified".

But that's exactly how Constable Kate Duggan says she felt walking out of Auckland's downtown community policing centre on her first day on the job a month ago.

Ms Duggan, 34, said she felt anxious about how she would react if someone ran up to her for help.

Those fears have been alleviated by her involvement in a project that is a first for the New Zealand Police, under which 10 recent graduates from the Royal New Zealand Police College in Porirua receive constant back-up on the beat.

The officers, including Ms Duggan, have formed a team, known as the field training unit, as part of an initiative designed to assist the constables in their transition from police college to work.

Senior Sergeant Ben Offner from the downtown community policing centre said the project gave the officers extra support because real-life policing was a "completely new environment" from the practice scenarios they faced at the college.

The idea is based on overseas schemes where new officers are paired up and supported by more experienced officers.

"We're always concerned that it's a sink-or-swim situation," Mr Offner said. "How they turn out at the end of it depends on the quality of the support they get from guys on the section."

Most police work was about dealing with people, and having an experienced officer on call to tell the officers how to deal with different and often challenging situations was a great tool, Mr Offner said.

"We get them walking the beat because that's where they learn their basic skills of being in public, being confident."

A review will be completed around December which will compare the quality of work being done by the 10 field training unit officers to that of other graduates who went straight into police work without additional support.

- NZ Herald

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